NRL Rd 1: Saturday Match Previews and Betting Tips

Super Saturday is back with a triple slate of games including Warriors vs. Bulldogs, Tigers vs. Sea Eagles and Cowboys vs. Dragons

James Baxter
 | 
Wed, 13 Mar, 4:00 AM

Super Saturday is back with a triple slate of games including Warriors vs. Bulldogs, Tigers vs. Sea Eagles and Cowboys vs. Dragons

New Zealand Warriors vs. Canterbury Bulldogs – Mt Smart Stadium - 3:00pm

Both sides are being backed not top make the top eight in 2019 (Warriors - $1.40 BetEasy, Bulldogs $1.15 TAB) but know this clash is a golden chance at two points to kickstart their campaigns.

 

2019 TRIAL RESULTS

Storm 6 – Warriors 12

Warriors 26 – Tigers 16

Eels 20 – Raiders 22

Raiders 28 – Bulldogs 22

 

TRIAL TAKEAWAYS

Two impressive results – but still questions loom over the Warriors’ halves. Blake Green will move into halfback following Shaun Johnson’s sudden exit, while former Panthers lower-grader Adam Keighran will get first crack at five-eighth. Perhaps Keighran’s goalkicking saw him gain an edge over Chanel Harris-Tavita, but no doubt the pressure will be on to become a key part of the New Zealanders’ attack. Coach Steve Kearney may be breathing easier though with a new contract offered to him.

Meanwhile there was only the one trial for Dean Pay’s men, however, there were promising signs with his side showing attacking spark when at full-strength before mass interchanges were made in the second half. One of the biggest talking points has been the omission of backrower Rhyse Martin, meaning Kerrod Holland will takeover goalkicking responsibilities for the Doggies.

 

KEY STAT

      - The Warriors have won their last two opening round clashes scoring 26 and 32 points respectively, while the Bulldogs have lost both.

 

Tip: Warriors

Best bet: Warriors first to 10 points $1.66 Sportsbet

Value bet: Warriors (13+) $3.50 Bet365

Wests Tigers vs. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles – Leichhardt Oval – 5:30pm

Two former Premiership coaches find themselves in new – or one’s case, slightly familiar – surroundings in 2019. Michael Maguire will coach his first Wests Tigers game, while Des Hasler will return to the Sea Eagles for the first time since the 2011 season.

 

2019 TRIAL RESULTS

Warriors 26 – Tigers 16

Sharks 28 – Sea Eagles 22

Sea Eagles 38 – Roosters 20

 

TRIAL TAKEAWAYS

Only one trial but many questions for new coach Michael Maguire. The Tigers are still no closer to answering their five-eighth selection dilemma with confidence. Veteran Benji Marshall has his nose in front of a dropped Josh Reynolds. Lock Elijah Taylor is named but remains in round one doubt through injury. At least though new signings Robert Jennings and Ryan Matterson debuted against the Warriors and are fit for their new side. Moses Mbye’s knee injury is a blow but in Corey Thompson, the Tigers have an experienced fullback deputy.

Returning coach Des Hasler would probably like to take away his 2019 trials entirely following a spate of injuries suffered. Forwards Kelepi Tanginoa and Taniela Paseka suffered knee injuries, but it will be Tom Trbojevic’s hamstring injury which will hurt Manly the most. A delayed start to his season - plus Dylan Walker being stood down by the NRL - means Hasler’s squad depth is being tested before the season has officially started. Kane Elgey will debut for Manly after a transfer from the Gold Coast, meaning Daly Cherry-Evans will yet again need to form a new halves combination.

­­KEY STAT

     - The Tigers are hot starters – they’ve won their last four round one clashes, regardless of a coaching carousel.

 

Tip: Tigers

Best bet: Tigers to win $1.72 Bet365

Value bet: HT/FT Tigers/Tigers $2.45

North Queensland Cowboys vs. St George-Illawarra Dragons – 1300SMILES Stadium – 7:35pm

We get our first look at the Cowboys post-Johnathan Thurston as they host a Dragons side desperate to put a challenging offseason behind them.

The Cowboys entered 2018 as Premiership favourites in what would be their iconic halfback Thurston’s final hurrah. Instead, the fairytale turned sour as they instead faced a wooden spoon battle. Ravaged by injuries, the Cowboys blooded youth which may prove an advantage in 2019. The Dragons meanwhile started off 2018 white hot before a post-Origin slump saw them miss out on the top four. An incredible ambush of Brisbane in the finals’ first week followed by a heartbreaking final second loss to Souths showed though the Dragons still have the quality to match it with the league’s best.

 

2019 TRIAL RESULTS

Cowboys 22 – Titans 16

Cowboys 14 – Storm 6

Dragons 18 – Knights 10

Dragons 24 – Rabbitohs 36

 

TRIAL TAKEAWAYS

The Cowboys’ revamped roster already shows signs of coming together nicely. Jordan Kahu – signed to replace now ex-signing Ben Barba- has taken over fullback, meaning Michael Morgan steps up to halfback. In the forwards, the signing of Josh McGuire means an embarrassment of forward riches for coach Paul Green, with the Queenslanders having the luxury of starting McGuire from the bench.

Representative second-rower Tyson Frizell will be asked by coach Paul MacGregor to shift into lock following Jack de Belin’s indefinite suspension. This means further team shuffling for MacGregor – he’s already moved Gareth Widdop from fullback to five-eighth and signed Corey Norman to play in the halves alongside ex-Broncos teammate Ben Hunt.

 

KEY STAT

     - Backrower Tariq Sims was the Dragons’ leading forwards try scorer in 2018 with seven tries. He also scored in these two sides’ only 2018 clash and will be relied on a big 80-minute performance without de Belin’s experience.

 

Tip: Cowboys

Best bet: Cowboys (-2) $2.10 Bet365

Value bet: Tariq Sims to score anytime/Cowboys win $7.20 TAB

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